It comes along only every four years. Well, not exactly...it skips every 100, except every 500...and by the way, do you ever wonder how the hell people figured stuff like that out? I do.
I'm constantly fascinated by how intelligent humans can be.
Not always are.
Those are two different things, but I digress.
We're here to talk about leap year. This morning, I reflected on just how much has changed in my life in these past four years, how different I was back then as compared to now.
Vastly is an understatement.
I was very much in the thick of things as far as my personal crises go. I hadn't yet started to develop full blown PTSD though, because I was absolutely in the place where I was still actively surviving the traumas.
God, I was in such a bad place.
I look back now, re-read some of the things I wrote in the blogs that you all don't get to see, and my words haunt the very wellness of my being. I see them as both a celebration of how far I've traveled and a cautionary tale of how awful life can become in a short time.
I didn't think I'd ever have another child four years ago. I wasn't sure where I would be on any given day. I wasn't sure that my marriage would last. I wasn't sure that my sanity would remain intact.
I was juggling everything. Trying to work on me, trying to fix my marriage, trying to help my mother, trying to parent my kids, trying to write, trying trying trying trying.
Failing abundantly at almost everything.
If you'd have sat me down back then and asked me where I'd be in four years, I can promise you that if I'd conjured up some reasonably accurate version of today, it would have been an outlier. A fantasy. Perhaps, even a bit delusional.
Things really were that bad.
And here I am.
My mother is gone now. Though I did the best I could to help her, it was never enough because it could never be enough. She left even though I didn't want her to. She shut me out. And then she died. I have long since given up trying to imagine ways that things might have gone differently for her, for us, because there's no point in torturing myself. I miss her. I missed her long before she died. My heart ached for a long time, wishing for a world where I could be the child and she could be the parent, but it doesn't anymore. Perhaps that is because time both hardens us and opens our eyes to what reality was, as opposed to the romanticized versions we wish had existed. When I made all those videos two weeks ago now, I heard her laugh in mine and I knew that in her own way, she was still here.
My emotional well-being, my mental health, my stability is light years better than it was the last time we visited February 29th. I was clinging to my last threads of sanity, ones that had been stretched to their maximums so many times and then stretched more back then. I was an emotional disaster. Perhaps the PTSD had finally started to settle in, to make itself at home. I was a loose cannon. I lashed out. I cried. I broke down in my car on almost a daily basis. I hated my reality and almost everything in it and about it. I questioned why all this had to be happening to me. I never got those answers. Now, I've come out on the other side. I've let go of the burdens that were never mine. I forgave those who hurt me. I went through tons of therapy, after first admitting I needed it. I'm taking better care of me, in large part because I have no other choice. My health suffered greatly. I've said before that this version of me might flinch a bit now, might be covered in scars, but she's a lot stronger than she's ever been.
My marriage is better than it has ever been, and I can say that without hesitation or reservation. Four years ago, we were two lost people who knew almost nothing about what we wanted in this world. Fortunately, the only thing we did both know is that we wanted to try and figure that out together. I say nothing about marriage flippantly. It is hard. It is work. It hurts like hell sometimes. We are better people individually now, and only because of that truth are we better together now.
My kids. They're different too. We slayed some dragons in these four years. We confronted some ugly things, realized some great mistakes we'd made as parents. We learned. They've grown, and we've grown with them. We don't pretend to have any of this figured out. We communicate better than we ever did before, and we teach them to do the same with us and with one another. They'd go to the ends of the earth for one another, I think. There is, of course, the matter of the baby. The one that I didn't ever think I'd have the chance to meet. He's here, and I know now that he was always a part of us. He was always here.
My writing. Hmm. I write less often these days, but when I do write, it's always deliberate. It wasn't like that before. Writing kept my head just above water on too many days to count, and for that I will forever be grateful. I've grown to embrace this as a part of who I am. Though I often say that I won't let anything define me, if there is anything that does in fact define me, it's this. I am a writer. I crave it. I need it. I require it to sustain my very existence.
Four years ago, I was a mess. A complete and utter mess. No need to sugarcoat that truth. I've come so far, more than I would have imagined possible.
Four years from now, I have no idea where I'll be. I stopped trying to control the future long ago. I have been taught, repeatedly, that plans mean little in the eyes of time. Goals are wonderful, but flexibility is necessary. I have no idea even who I'll be in four years. I think she'll look a bit like me today. She'll be older, wiser, grayer. She'll have a few more lines, a few more stories to tell. I can't wait to meet her.
What about you all? Where were you four years ago? Where do you see yourself four years from now?